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Alrighty kiddos, as promised, here it comes to you. Hot off the presses (or my keyboard), it's the very first installment of my epic tale of the creature called Leujin. Brace yourselves for this blockbuster event of the season! It's sure to be an INSTANT hit! </shameless self promotion> Look, just read it. I know it still has some kinks, but a) it's the first draft and b) I'm a 19 year old ART student. Bite me.
PROLOGUE

“You never did understand me, Mother! You just don’t get my needs!” The prince shouted as he stormed through the castle.

“Leujin, please be reasonable,” The queen called as she ran after him, “I was only making a suggestion. Please don’t go.”

By that time Leujin had already barged his way through the whole castle, rapping on doors as he passed them simply to cause a ruckus and make the inhabitants come out to observe his tantrum. That’s all he really wanted was proper attention. He was the prince of Isregrakt, after all. Why shouldn’t he get all the attention he wanted? The servants watched dumbfounded as the prince stormed out of the castle. Their gaze slowly drew back to the queen who was now stopped in her tracks. She turned around and wandered back to her room at the far end of the castle.

“I just don’t know what to do with him, Love. I tried reasoning with him but he always blows it out of proportion,” muttered the queen as she sat down next to her husband.

“Young People.” scoffed the king, “He’ll grow out of it eventually. We just need to let him vent his anger from time to time. You’ll recall I was as wild eyed and angry as young Leujin not that long ago.”

The queen sighed and slumped down in her seat, “I suppose you’re right.”

Meanwhile out the courtyard, Leujin continued to boil and brood, “She’s just a fool. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I want my way, and she won’t let me have it. I’m the prince, I should be allowed certain privileges. She gives them to my brother and sister. Why not me?” He continued storming through the courtyard, muttering under his breath. He stomped around, kicking stones and shouting at vagrant mutts as they crossed his path, “Well, forget them. I don’t need them anyway.”

* * *

Hours had passed and Leujin was still angry with his parents. He really wasn’t quite sure anymore, but he knew he was still angry. The kingdom was now far over the horizon and out of sight. He really wasn’t quite sure where he was, but it was a place he’d never seen. The walls around him screamed far into the air, further than he’d ever seen anything rising. He walked through the canyon, running his hand along one of the walls, feeling all the bumps and tiny imperfections. He felt the friction finally getting to him, so he brought his hand away and thrust it into his pocket. Still he walked.

He continued walking for quite some time. The sun was beginning to set behind him, and he was beginning to worry a bit. He’d heard stories of creatures that lurked in these types of places when the sun went down. Creatures that fed on the living. Creatures that weren’t dead, but weren’t living either. They feared the light. Pale creatures, feared by all, hunted by none. Vampires. The death walkers. He felt a cold shiver running down his spine. “Best not to think about these things,” he said to himself. Still he was worried, and still the sun sank. He continued to walk until he found a small cave which he could hole himself up in for the night. “Hopefully nothing will find me here,” he whispered. He pulled his cloak tight over his shoulders and drifted off to sleep.

That night he dreamed. He dreamed of these creatures finding and attacking him. He dreamed hey advanced upon him as he slept. They jolted him awake and began ripping the flesh from his bones, screaming at the sky as they drank his blood in a greusome, ancient sacrifice. Sparing nothing, they ripped him apart, blood spurting everywhere as they feasted upon him. Draining him of his blood, leaving him alive until the last possible moment.

He jumped awake. “Only a dream,” he said. He shifted his weight a little. Suddenly he heard a clattering. His heart skipped a beat as he sat up straight again, “Hello?” he said, shuddering, “I-is someone there?” Soon his question was answered. Those same creatures he saw in his dream jumped out of the darkness and tore the boy from his cave.

“What are you doing here?!” one of them hissed. They were clad in black cloaks and dark underclothes. The color of their eye was darker than the sky on a moonless night. They sucked up all the light around them and engulfed Leujin in their gaze. The sheer sight of their eyes gave Leujin a shiver again. He felt the cold grips of death around him, and there was nothing he could do to escape its clutches. He was powerless. There was nothing he could do to fight this off. He felt the one holding him leaning in for the bite. He felt his blood being drained. He felt it leaking from his veins and into the vampire’s mouth. He felt himself going limp and lifeless. He felt his life force being drained from his body and into that of another. He knew this would be his final moment, and a single tear trickled down his cheek.

Suddenly there was an urge within him. An urge to strike the creature down. He mustered up all the strength he could possible find to reach up his hand and club the creature on the back of the skull. It released it’s grip and let out another hiss at Leujin as he slumped down to the ground, finally free of the creature’s clutches.

“GO AWAY!” he shouted, as fell back onto his hands. He picked up a nearby stick and brandished it at the monster before him. The vampire looked down at Leujin: scared, lost... and now the virus within him. His body was changing in a way that could not be prevented. He screamed at the vampire again, “LEAVE!! I’ll have no more of this foolishness!”

The vampire could see the boy was now a lifeless lump, and he dashed off into the night. Leujin curled into the fetal position as the last of his blood trickled out of his neck and spilled onto the ground. He wept into the night.

* * *

Leujin lay there, sticky with his own blood and tears, “I must have drifted off,” he said as he stood up to greet the morning. The sun hurt his eyes more than normal that morning. He felt its gaze piercing into him, and he felt as though his body was on fire. He winced and shielded his eyes as he drew himself back into the shade of his cave. Something had happened last night. His mind was still hazy. He wasn’t even sure why he was lying in a pool of blood. He felt the pain in his neck, but couldn’t remember why. He drew his hand across the wound on his neck.

Suddenly the memory shot past him. The terror he felt. The sheer, absolute horror of the creature decending upon him. The fear. The anger. The sorrow and the regret.

His hand shot away from his neck, and he sat staring in bewilderment. Had he been attacked? His eyes grew wide at the thought. Was he now one of them? His gaze found it’s way off to where he was lying when he woke. He saw there a thread of fabric. He looked to his own cloak. He saw it was ripped, but there were no pieces missing. He braved the sun one more time to dash out to grab the cloth. He snatched it off the ground and dashed back to his cave. He examined the cloth. It was black. Clearly not from his own cloak, as it was a dark shade of green. Nothing particularly unusual about it, but he somehow felt it was important so he promptly thrust it into his pocket.

There he sat for the remainder of the day. He felt himself growing hungrier by the hour, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it. The sun simply hurt too much to withstand for more than a few minutes. He waited for night to come, lost in his thoughts. The whole day he worried for his family. He knew they would be distraught to find he wasn’t in his own bed in the morning, as he usually returned before night fell. He felt a rage growing within him. He wanted to find the one that had attacked him and destroy him once and for all. He held the piece of cloth in his hand and ran it through is fingers. It was an unusual fabric. One which he had never come across before. It was tight and rubbery, almost like a piece of leather, but it was somehow different. It felt almost human.

At last night had closed in, and he ventured out of his cave. He knew he had to get out of there quickly, lest the vampire come back and attack him again. He had to get back home. He was too weak to run, though. He needed to find something to eat. He plodded along, none the less, hoping to find something to eat along the way. As luck would have it, a large rat passed him not far along the trail. With a speed he never knew he possessed, He threw his hand down and grabbed the rodent, devouring it in one fell swoop. He felt his strength and energy slowly returning, and he felt himself anew. He felt a rush come upon him and he quickly dashed off towards home. He was running faster than he’d ever run before. He felt he could outrun any creature in the land that dare challenge him to a race.

Sooner than he’d realized, he was already upon his home. It was somehow different. He couldn’t tell at first glance, but something about it felt different. It felt cold. Empty. His heart sank as he feared the worst. He quickly ran through the halls, knocking on doors as he passed them. Scarcely was there an answer. He felt the fear of loss creeping through his body once again. The floor below him was sticky with blood, and they made a thick sucking noise as he ran. It was still warm.

“Mother!” he screamed, “Father! Are you alright?!” He ran through the halls screaming, pulling his feet from the sticky floor, tears running down his face and falling into the dried blood below him. The curtains were torn, the carpets all askew. Something was indeed amiss. He ran through the halls until he found himself at the back of the castle, in the courtroom where his mother and father sat. Still in their thrones. Unmoving. He slowed his run down to a steady trot. “Mother? Father?” He crept slowly up to where they sat. Up the shallow steps, across the carpet, and finally to there feet. Still they sat. A steady dripping could be heard just ahead of him. He leaned in close to see where the dripping was coming from, and saw the slash wound across his father’s chest. His eyes grew wide and he staggered back. He looked to his mother and saw she too was dead. Her limbs torn from her body and thrown across the room.

He turned around and wept again. There he saw him. Still standing there, propped against the wall before him. Leaning back, arms across his breast, looking to the floor, “I thought I might find you here, boy. Seems a might of trouble has befallen your fair family here. That might teach ye to be trespassing.”

The sorrow turned into rage, and Leujin’s face contorted into a scowl, raught with vengeance, “You MONSTER! What have you done?!” He thrust towards the vampire before him, but he deftly leapt out of the way and behind Leujin, knocking him to the floor with a swift blow of the butt of his sword.

“Tsk tsk tsk. Had you not been so foolish as to run into my lair they might have been spared. Hell, I might have even given them the gift I gave you,” He brought his foot up and brought it down upon Leujin’s back as he tried to get back up, "but because of your bullheadedness they’re now dead. As is everybody else in the kingdom,” He brought up his foot and began walking back to the thrones.

Leujin coughed as he brought himself to his feet. Fists clenched at his side, he scowled at the floor, “So help me, vampire, I will kill you, if it’s the last thing I do,” he turned around to attack the vampire again, but too late. He had vanished. He slowly trod back to the throne where the bodies of his parents lay and he fell to his knees. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. That was the last thing he said before shuffling off to his parents bed and falling asleep.

* * *

He awoke late in the day, mere hours from dusk. What little light there was still pierced into his brain and made him feel as though he was on fire. What windows were uncovered, he found tatters of carpets to cover them up and throw the palace into darkness. He knew this was part of the transition to the creature he would soon become. His thirst grew, and he knew what he must do. He shuffled through the kingdom, finding corpses of his friends and family, and draining them of what little blood they had left in their bodies. He lit the candles all around the kingdom as he stalked through the halls. When night finally came he gave them all proper burials in the courtyard. The ground was littered with mounds of dirt where his friends and family lay. He meandered back to the throne room and sat in his father's now vacated throne.

He picked up the crown and put it on his head. Sure, he was the king now, but of what? An empty soulless castle. No friends, no family, no companionship.

He propped his head upon his fist and sat silently. The crown felt heavy upon his head. He wasn’t ready to rule the kingdom, even it was completely empty. He was just barely 23 and hardly fit to rule anything. He hardly had control of his own thought. He scowled as the thought of the vampire found its way into his constantly shuffling thoughts. He plotted his vengeance upon the monster. He didn’t know when or where exactly he would meet him again, but he knew when he did that what happened would certainly not be a pleasant sight. He would kill the vampire and break the curse brought upon him. He would kill the vampire and avenge his family and friends. He would kill the vampire and feel a final retribution, even if it took 2000 years.

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darwins_despair

August 2006

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